Corporate wiki vs. Knowledge base: Which one do you need?
9 mins read
Tue, May 10, '22
Is your organization actively managing, creating, and distributing knowledge? Or do your employees have to waste time searching for information across multiple, disparate tools?
According to a recent survey, 75% of organizations said that creating and preserving knowledge would be important or very important to their success over the next 12–18 months. And yet, only 9% felt they were “very ready” to embrace this trend.
To bridge this readiness gap, companies need to implement tools that allow their employees to freely, share, organize and access knowledge — and a corporate wiki could be the answer.
What is a corporate wiki?
A corporate wiki is a central database where employees of an organization can store and organize content. This might include employee handbooks, product information, project plans, onboarding checklists, and internal processes.
Crucially, a corporate wiki is created and collaboratively maintained by a company’s employees, not a dedicated knowledge management team. Anyone within the company can edit or add to the corporate wiki when they have information to share. In this way, a corporate wiki functions like your organization’s private, internal version of Wikipedia.
Corporate wiki vs. company knowledge base
Corporate wikis and internal knowledge bases are both systems for organizations to store and organize internal content, and the two terms are often confused. The main difference between a corporate wiki and a knowledge base is that, while a wiki is designed to be organically grown by an organization’s employees, a knowledge base is put together more deliberately.
The content in a company’s knowledge base is created or curated by just a few dedicated employees who are responsible for managing the knowledge base. They may give other employees, such as department leaders, the right to create or edit content. This allows organizations to have more control over the information that’s stored, and to avoid confusion caused by out-of-date or badly organized information.
A corporate wiki is meant to encourage collaboration and facilitate knowledge-sharing across all levels of an organization. However, a knowledge base usually comes with more ways to logically structure and organize content, as well as set rules for things like taxonomy and naming conventions. This can make it easier for employees to find the right content.
Ultimately, both corporate wikis and knowledge bases can be valuable ways for companies to store and manage knowledge. Many modern software solutions offer the best of both worlds, combining a wiki function that all staff members can contribute to with a more managed knowledge base.
Why do companies use corporate wiki software?
A McKinsey study found that information workers spend on average 19% of their time searching for information. For a full-time employee, that adds up to some seven or eight hours a week — or a whole working day. Using a corporate wiki can help your team to find the information they need more easily.
Here are some of the reasons that companies use corporate wiki systems to organize information:
Corporate wikis improve knowledge management and retention
An organization’s knowledge is one of its biggest assets. By setting up a corporate wiki and encouraging your employees to document their knowledge, you can make sure that organizational knowledge is accessible to everyone. This helps you to retain knowledge even when your most valued employees eventually leave.
Corporate wikis provide a searchable knowledge base
There’s not much point in documenting all of your organization’s most important knowledge if no one can find it. A good corporate wiki solution will allow employees to search for specific content. This turns your wiki into a self-service content repository where employees can get the information they need, without having to ask for help.
Corporate wikis eliminate confusion
In many organizations, company information is scattered across a number of different platforms, which can make it difficult to find the right information. A well-organized wiki is a way to bring all of your organization’s knowledge together in one place. By creating this single source of truth, you can ensure that your employees will always know where to look for the information they need.
Corporate wikis accelerate onboarding
Getting to know a new company, including all of the various people, policies, and procedures you need to be aware of, can be overwhelming if it’s not properly managed. And an effective onboarding process can increase employee retention by up to 82%.
Using a corporate wiki, you can give your new hires easy access to all of the guidelines, how-to guides, training materials, and other documents that they need to get up to productivity as quickly as possible. This also saves time for managers and leaders, as they won’t have to keep answering the same repetitive questions from new employees.
Corporate wikis improve employee productivity
Creating a corporate wiki that acts as a single source of truth for your organization helps to streamline information and empowers employees to work independently. It can also save a lot of time, since your employees won’t need to search through multiple channels or ask their colleagues for help. This gives back valuable time to your employees, allowing them to focus on doing their best work.
Corporate wikis increase team collaboration
The whole point of a corporate wiki is that it is a collaborative effort that anyone in your organization can contribute to. By encouraging your team members to share their knowledge, experience, and insights to help others, you can create a collaborative, teamwork-focused culture where everyone is empowered to grow.
Corporate wiki software can also be invaluable in breaking down information silos within your organization. With a corporate wiki in place, every member of your team can tap into your valuable shared knowledge, regardless of their job title.
Corporate wikis integrate with existing workflows
Most organizations use various different workplace tools on a day-to-day basis. And modern corporate wiki solutions can often integrate with the other tools and processes you already use.
Happeo, for example, integrates with both Google Workspace and Microsoft 365. This means that when you search in your corporate wiki, you can also search your Google Drive or OneDrive files at the same time. Plus, you can even embed Drive or OneDrive files into your Pages to add context and make it easier for employees to find the information they need.
Corporate wikis reduce employee attrition
Employees that work for companies with a collaborative, supportive culture are less likely to want to quit — and a corporate wiki can help organizations to achieve this. Plus, when your employees have all of the information they need in one easily searchable location, they don’t have to waste time tracking down facts and figures. This means they have more time to get their work done, resulting in lower levels of stress and burnout.
Implementing a corporate wiki and encouraging all employees to contribute their knowledge and expertise can also help to make sure employees feel valued and listened to at work.
Drawbacks of traditional corporate wikis
While a corporate wiki can be a valuable tool for managing knowledge in your organization, traditional wiki solutions do come with some downsides.
Here are a few of the drawbacks of traditional corporate wikis:
Extra oversight is needed
A corporate wiki that anyone can contribute to encourages a culture of knowledge-sharing and collaboration — but it can also cause problems. When anyone can add information to the wiki without approval from subject matter experts, there’s a risk that the wiki will end up containing information that’s incorrect or outdated.
Modern corporate wiki solutions provide a balance between allowing everyone to contribute and ensuring information is correct and up to date, through features such as content approval. Another important feature is Lifecycle Management, where leaders are alerted when a piece of content hasn’t been updated in a long time and may be obsolete.
Restricted search functionality
While most corporate wiki solutions offer some level of search functionality, this is often not very intuitive or powerful. This can lead to employees having to waste time tracking down the information they need.
However, modern corporate wiki solutions combine functional wiki software with a powerful search function, with some (including Happeo) even allowing you to search across multiple third-party apps from within your digital workplace.
Often outside of existing workflows
Maintaining an internal wiki can create a lot of extra work for your employees. Adding, updating, and searching for information on your corporate wiki takes them out of their everyday workflow, which can result in wasted time and a loss of productivity.
To avoid this, look for corporate wiki solutions that work seamlessly alongside the tools and platforms your teams already use. This way, your employees can avoid wasting time jumping between different platforms, and simply integrate your wiki into their daily workflow.
No analytics are provided
Traditional company wikis don’t offer much insight into how your employees are using them. This means that you could end up with pages and pages of redundant content that no one is accessing, and knowledge gaps where information that employees need isn’t available.
A modern wiki can provide you with valuable analytics, which tells you what your employees are (and aren’t) searching for. This can allow you to remove or consolidate redundant content that’s cluttering up your wiki, and ensure your team’s FAQs are answered.
Harness the power of modern corporate wiki software
While traditional corporate wikis might not be suitable for today’s world of work, there is a solution. Happeo is your modern corporate wiki, knowledge base, and social intranet, wrapped up in one intuitive platform.
Here’s why Happeo might be the modern corporate wiki solution your organization needs:
- Universal Search: With Happeo, you can search across your wiki content, Google Drive, OneDrive, and SharePoint, all at the same time. This means you can find the information you need in seconds without switching from app to app.
- Social collaboration: McKinsey research has found that companies can increase knowledge workers’ productivity by 20–25% by using social technologies. In Happeo, communication takes place in Channels, which are dedicated spaces for teams to meet, collaborate, and socialize.
- Personalized homepages: No one needs to see the whole sum of a company’s knowledge all at once. With Happeo, you can easily personalize your home page so it only shows the content, Channels, and widgets that you need.
- Content lifecycle management: Happeo’s Lifecycle Management features mean that leaders will be automatically alerted when content becomes stale, so you can take steps to update or remove it.
- Deep workspace integrations: Happeo is designed to be the heart of your work, tying everything together through deep integrations with popular tools like Google Workspace, Microsoft 365, and more.
- In-depth analytics: Happeo’s Analytics features mean you can easily see which posts and pages are getting the most engagement. And there’s no need to guess what content your teams want to see: search analytics help you to spot any FAQs and make sure any knowledge gaps are filled.
Want to learn more about what Happeo could do for your organization? Book a free, personalized demo today.